Tireless Efforts in Meaningful Brain Injury Research - 2020 BIANJ Honoree Dr. Nancy Chiaravalloti
In this episode of Kessler Foundation's podcast, Dr. Nancy Chiaravalloti, director of the Centers for Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Research and Traumatic Brain Injury Research, discusses her efforts in brain injury research.
Dr. Chiaravalloti was this year's 2020 Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey's honoree. She was designated Research Innovation Champion for her tireless efforts in meaningful brain injury research.
Below is an excerpt from the podcast.
Nancy Chiaravalloti: The best parts of my job are the days when I can spend time with people who have a brain injury and their caregivers. And I'm able to learn what their lives are like and what they're facing in their everyday life.
Erica Weber: I'm Dr. Erica Webber, a research scientist in the Center for Traumatic Brain Injury Research here at Kessler Foundation, and I'm joined today by my colleague Dr. Nancy Chiaravalloti who is the Director for the Center for Traumatic Brain Injury Research and The Center for Neuropsychology at Neuroscience Research at Kessler Foundation. Dr. Chiaravalloti was recently awarded the title of Research Innovation champion by the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey at their recent gala. So we want to welcome Dr. Chiaravalloti and say congratulations.
NC: Thank you for having me, and thank you for the congratulations. It was a huge honor to be honored for something that I love doing every day.
EW: That's great. You've been at Brain Injury Research for a number of years. Now, tell us how did you get involved in brain injury research?
NC: I've done cognitive rehabilitation research since finishing my fellowship at Kessler Foundation. In the context of doing that research, I designed a cognitive rehabilitation protocol, and I tested that protocol initially with persons who have multiple sclerosis. Through that initial research, we found the treatment to be effective for helping persons with multiple sclerosis overcome the memory deficits that they were having. So in the context of applying for a large grant, I was invited to submit a modification of that protocol directed to persons who have traumatic brain injury, and that was my first foray into traumatic bring injury research. That was back in 2007.
EW: Oh, wow. So it sounds like it was more of a transition, that it wasn't necessarily your first research area, but that you were able to find that a lot of what you were doing was easily translatable and would be helpful to people with brain injury.
NC: Correct. Going back in my career, my dissertation work was done in epilepsy. My fellowship work was done in multiple sclerosis, and I had continued my multiple sclerosis work to start my research career. And then the traumatic brain injury work came after that because the cognitive rehabilitation protocol that we were testing, called the Modified Story Memory Technique, was showing such nice effects in this other population that had memory problems. The natural inclination was to try to take that technique and apply it in a population that-- in another population that also had memory deficits, and that's how I started to do the traumatic brain injury work that I continue to do today.